Friday, August 03, 2018

"Signed, Sealed, Delivered" Parent Communication

I am a proponent of parent and guardian communication.  My goal each year is to try to communicate with each student's home, not just for concerns but for positive and general classroom operations.  Our school has a BTS night and I work to have many things ready for parents to discuss with and sign at that time.  Our JH/HS has one conference around mid-term of each quarter.  Unfortunately, attendance has been declining, which can be partially explained by having more and more information available online.  I still think they are valuable, so I try to call and email parents to encourage them to attend.  My numbers are still not terribly high, but I generally have higher numbers than peers that may not personally contact parents.  Our school has many students whose parents do not speak English, so we need to work with our school translators.  That makes parent communication more complicated but not possible.  It just takes more planning.

To keep track of parent communication, I keep a binder with each student's contact information.  I have a form that I use, I found it somewhere quite a few years ago.  It's pretty basic.  I have thought about moving to an electronic system, but at this time, I still prefer keeping the binder.

Certain times during the year, depending on the need, I use our gradebook's program to mass email mass email parents.  You can select the students you want and even easily copy and paste information to use more than once.  I often use this method if students have a large assignment due or a test coming up to maybe add another nudge to the student.

At the beginning of the school last year, I wanted to start off with a positive communication experience with students and their parents.  I read an article in ASCD and I used the same questions from that to create a sheet for students to take home and have their parents complete.  If a student's parent couldn't write in English, I encouraged students to talk with their parents and help them complete the sheet.  Here is what I used:  Parent Homework .  The last question helped me plan how to contact parents.  They selected what ways were best to reach them, and I tried to honor that as much as was possible.  I really enjoyed reading these, and there was a second part, I had students complete a similar sheet and many students were really happy to know what their parents had said about them.  I didn't quite get 100% completetion, but it was pretty close.  I am planning to do this again this year, for sure with my incoming 7th grade students.  I haven't fully decided if I will do it again with my 8th graders or if I will modify it in some way.

How do you communicate with parents?  What have you had success with?

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